Ashwaq Abdulla has always had a creative streak, and says she’s grown to love sharing her passion and the inspiration behind her artworks.
“I used to draw as a kid, and that continued throughout school and university,” she says. “I had this dream to do something for my country and give back. I found that art was the correct way.”
Abdulla, whose passion lies in abstract paintings and collage, was first recognised for her artistic talent at the age of 7, when she won a local art competition. Since then, her work has evolved, and what first started out as drawing now combines charcoal, pastels, oils and recyclable materials. She’s also delving into multimedia and art therapy.
“You can turn everything around you into an art piece,” she says. “Recently, I started to do something with the Dubai Center for Special Needs. I started teaching art therapy. I love it, and can see the impact of the sessions.”
Abdulla, who studied interior design at the Higher Colleges of Technology and has worked in advertising, marketing and communications, was recently commissioned to produce seven sculptures to represent the seven emirates. Once complete, the works will be displayed in the lobby of the Four Seasons Abu Dhabi hotel, where she already has two works hanging. “One piece is of Al Hosn palace, a black-and-white abstract with one strong colour in between. The other is the Abu Dhabi skyline, also in abstract.”
Abdulla has produced hundreds of works, but she’s particularly proud of one. “I did a special piece, I think last year, for the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan [bin Mohammed]. I sent it to him and he loved it.
“My dad is very creative,” says Abdulla, who drew the illustrations below. “He used to do crafting of wood, like with dhow boats, so I got the crafting side from dad, while my mum was very creative with food.”
So what does the future hold?
“My dream is to have a big solo gallery, a space at Saadiyat,” she says. “This is what I’m planning.”
What’s the best item or prize you have ever received?
I was 7. I won an art competition – it was the first competition for me. I received a gift, a teddy bear, [it was] pink and huge, so still I can remember that.
What sort of car do you drive and what does it say about you?
A Mercedes CLS. I feel like I’m in the clouds. The most important for me is that it is without sound – I need silence when I drive.
What’s your favourite travel destination?
Italy – the art pieces, the museums, the nature, the food, it’s everything in one country. At the same time, I have just been once, but I have a lot of experiences – it keeps the arts going.
What advice do you have for young, creative, artistic people in the Middle East?
Study hard. Study the history of art – it is really important. I have done a few courses at an academic level. Go to a specific school. Museums are very important. It is very difficult to find a job here in our region as an artist, but you can combine art with design. It is a struggle to get work.
What five things do you always pack when you travel?
My camera, my art equipment – watercolours, a pad, a brush, a pencil – my make-up, my trainers, and a blank mug or notebook without any printing, or a bag to draw on, and film.
What’s your favourite movie?
I have so many, I love the movie Troy because I love history, and my other favourite is My Best Friend’s Wedding with Julia Roberts.
What’s your favourite food?
I love Italian food, but at the same time, I like everything light or grilled. I love ice cream and sweets – I am crazy about them.
Where do you enjoy spending time in Abu Dhabi?
Saadiyat [Island]. My dream is to have a gallery there. I spend lots of time in The Library [at Park Hyatt] and I also love the beach – it’s a very quiet place.
Is there an artist who particularly inspires you?
I have so many, lots of different artists – each one has a specific style. In general, any artist can make something different and change the world.
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Source: art & life